Skip to content Skip to navigation

Strategy: Lock Down ALL Exit Doors...

May 2, 2009
by Tim Tolan
| Reprints

Managing your talent pool is incredibly important – now maybe more than ever. In a down economy many executives focus their efforts on eliminating all hiring, freezing pay increases and in implementing other cost cutting strategies. While keeping an eye on the bottom-line those same executives are not focused on THE key strategy to survive this economy. Keeping and retain their senior team. Keeping and retaining top talent is one of the most critical success factors for executives and has the most impact on the organizations near term and long-term success. It can be the difference in your organizations success or failure. This is a real issue!

We’ve seen huge challenges in this economy. Clearly some areas of healthcare have been impacted and discussed in this forum (almost weekly). Developing talent management retention strategies may be viewed as overhead by some executives instead of a vital component of maintaining stability in the organization. NOTE TO SELF: In many cases having superior executive talent could be your only competitive advantage and the one key driver that can have the most impact on the success of the organization. Think about it! It is a very real issue! You must develop a plan today to keep your starting line-up from walking through the EXIT DOOR once the market turns! Many executives are wearing multiple hats, working longer hours and are growing tired of all of the increased workload and lack of compensation and recognition. Their career clock is definitely ticking. TICK-TOCK-TICK-TOCK…

It’s one thing to attract and recruit outstanding talent. It takes a different approach to keep them. Retaining top shelf talent has to be a top priority to get through this crazy market we are currently in. Failure to find ways to keep your key players engaged will likely result in a mass exit once the dust clears in this economy. That day will happen (for sure)!!

Losing key members of your team is not a good outcome so make a plan to keep them. Today!

Topics

Comments

Tim,
Please check your links in this post.

They dont work for me and refer to /Console/Common, which is very unusual. Thanks

Thanks Tim.
I especially appreciated your stratification of 'A' players, then, focus on them.
It brings to mind the unrelated point, "B players hire C players." Another post for another day!

Thanks to Kate G the links are working properly! Thanks Joe for pointing it out!

Joe:
I'm at a loss as to why the links don't work. I will huddle with Kate G tomorrow morning to find out what happened. It's likely a user issue...

Regarding your (very) informative response I really think retention strategies need to be driven in a "top-down" manner. The challenge we hear from candidates is that the primary focus has been on cast cutting with little regard to the impact of scaling back has had on the leadership team and others that play a large role in the organization. In some cases it may be the Board driving the initiative and in others it might be the CEO — but in my mind it has to be "top-down" sponsored by one or the other.

HR can certainly assess the many risk factors to the organization as they already have the requisite compensation information. Many HR pros are extremely talented at leading an evaluation like the one I'm describing and accessing risk factors. I always like the approach that identifies the top 10% - 20% of the employee population - the 'A" players. Once this "A" player talent pool is identified, an analysis needs to be done as to the organizational impact if one of them heads for the exit door. Lots of key data needs to be evaluated including current compensation (compared to market), last salary increase, bonus history and opportunity, current workload, key projects and many other drivers. Then one needs to ask "What would the impact be to the organization if a key person left. Who would step up? What would the impact be to projects they were leading? There is no "one-size fits all" formula — but getting your arms around a retention strategy in 2009 (and moving forward) is a very important initiative that organizational leaders have to embrace — and embrace now!

Tim,
Interesting content. Clearly a more strategic posture than many organizations are capable of at this point. Most large companies seem to start with financial engineering, which seems to almost always struggle with valuing talent, and prior investments in that talent.

The big lesson for me in 2009 has been that you can't rely on the planning assumptions of the past. This is true given only the financial markets. There is a lot of debate regarding the timing and shape of a recovery.

The double whammy is restructuring of healthcare reimbursement. Whether we call it incentives, stimulus, ARRA, HITECH, or 'saving Medicare,' it amounts to the same thing. Our lives are not 'business as usual.'

With the exception of Gartner, who routinely remind us of the importance and power of scenaric thinking (what scenarios might unfold and how can we tell earlier than our competitors what is happening,) that's the exception. The rule is muddle through.

So, with that as an acknowledgment of your premise, where do you propose we start with managing our talent pools, specifically with respect to retention of senior management?

Are you advocating: -

- a board level committee to review contribution and employment agreements?

- an HR-led initiative to review risk and compensation?

- do you subscribe to the idea that more than money and influence, people mainly stay or go based on their relationship with their immediate superior?  Here, a re-committment to skip-level management can be essential, to detect and respond, before it's too late.

- are there other models that are more appropriate for senior mgmt that factor in individual value factors?

- or, would you simply prefer to elaborate what you mean when you use the word 'engagement', as in keep your players engaged?

To me, here's the key in your original post: "Failure to find ways to keep your key players engaged will likely result in a mass exit ONCE THE DUST CLEARS in this economy." Everyone recognizes that employers are calling the shots right now, so we're all taking our lumps with a smile. Corporations that are slow to turn the faucet back on will lose talent. If the job situation improves faster than the compensation levels rise back to their previous levels, expect those with a pulse to move.

Tim Tolan

Senior Partner, Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice

@@TimTolan

http://sanfordrose.net/thetolangroup/

To help readers cope with the shortage of skilled healthcare IT workers, Tim Tolan’s blog...